Cover: Proximity to Legal Cannabis Stores in Canada and Use of Cannabis Sources in the First Three Years of Legalization, 2019-2021

Proximity to Legal Cannabis Stores in Canada and Use of Cannabis Sources in the First Three Years of Legalization, 2019-2021

Published in: Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs (2023). doi: 10.15288/jsad.22-00427

Posted on Aug 15, 2023

by Elle Wadsworth, Pete Driezen, Julia A. Dilley, Pete Driezen, Rebecca Jesseman, David Hammond


The accessibility of legal cannabis in Canada may influence how consumers source their cannabis. The aims of this study were to examine (1) the distance between respondents home to legal retail stores, (2) the cannabis sources used in the past 12 months, and (3) the association between cannabis sources used and distance to legal retail stores.


Data were analyzed from Canadian respondents participating in the International Cannabis Policy Study from 2019 to 2021. Respondents were 15,311 past 12-month cannabis consumers of legal age to purchase cannabis. Weighted logistic regression models examined cannabis sources used and their association with the Euclidean distance to the nearest legal store, province of residence, and year (n=12,928).


Respondents lived closer to a legal retail store in 2021 (1.5 km) vs. 2019 (6.8 km) as the number of retail stores increased. Respondents in 2020 and 2021 had higher odds of obtaining cannabis from legal sources (e.g., legal stores: 47.9% and 60.0% vs. 38.6%, respectively, AOR ranged 1.41-2.42) and lower odds of obtaining cannabis from illegal sources versus 2019 (e.g., dealers: 22.6% and 19.9% vs. 29.1%, respectively, AOR ranged 0.65-0.54). Respondents who lived closest to legal stores had higher odds of sourcing from legal stores, and lower odds of sourcing from legal websites or growing their own cannabis.


Legal cannabis stores are increasingly accessible to people living in Canada three years after legalization. Household proximity to a legal cannabis store was associated with sourcing cannabis from legal retail stores, but only among those who live very close (<3km). Findings suggest that proximity to legal cannabis stores may aid uptake of the legal market yet there may be diminishing returns after a certain point.

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